News Release: Thomas University
April 22, 2015
THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- Dr. Gary Bonvillian, Thomas University’s President for the past nine years, announced to the Board of Trustees today that he plans to retire June 2016.
“Two thousand sixteen will cap off a 42-year professional career, 40 of which have been in higher education,” Bonvillian said. “I feel now is the right time for me to step aside and let others carry on the work of Thomas University. That said, I still have another year to complete several critical projects to better position Thomas University for its next president.”
John Glenn, Chair of the Board of Trustees, accepted Bonvillian’s pending retirement.
“The entire Board of Trustees and the Thomas University wish Dr. Bonvillian all the best on his retirement as President of Thomas University,” Glenn said. “We hate to accept that he will be leaving on June 30, 2016, but we relish in the successes of his time here. Under his leadership the enrollment has doubled; the West Campus was acquired; our athletic programs have mushroomed; we have developed cooperative degree programs in the People’s Republic of China; and the university’s financial picture is much brighter. Additionally, we are embarking on the development of student housing on the West Campus. In short, he will be missed, but his many accomplishments on behalf of Thomas University are greatly appreciated.”
Bonvillian became the 10th President of Thomas University on July 1, 2006. During his time as President, TU has experienced phenomenal growth while most colleges and universities experienced significant declines. In the fall of 2006, TU had an enrollment of 685 students. The number has grown to 1,138 domestic students for the fall of 2014. TU also has more than 10 satellite sites in Tallahassee and across Georgia.
Bonvillian’s tenure included a major renovation of the Main Campus, including removing a street that bisected campus, relocating some buildings and improving landscaping. Smith-Bonvillian Hall, the newest addition to the campus facilities, is a symbol of TU’s progress. During Bonvillian’s time at TU, its programmable land area grew from 29 acres in 2006 to the current 74 acres, including TU’s West Campus on Magnolia Street that opened in the fall of 2012.
Under Bonvillian’s direction, TU has greatly expanded its international reach as well. He led the way in establishing partnerships with universities in China to provide TU’s degree programs in Nursing and Business. TU expects that by the fall of 2015, it will have more than 1,250 students in China, and this enrollment is expected to grow much larger.
Bonvillian brought Thomas University into the national spotlight as a charter member of the Yes We Must Coalition, a nonprofit organization that now totals almost 40 small, private, non-profit colleges and universities across the U.S. that seek to raise public awareness, share resources, collect data and fundraise together in order to improve graduation rates for under-served students. Bonvillian serves as one of the charter directors of the coalition and has served as a presenter in Yes We Must Coalition’s presentations to representatives of the U.S. Department of Education.
“I certainly am proud of what we have accomplished at Thomas University over the past decade,” Bonvillian said. “With tremendous support of my wife Mary Bonvillian, the Board of Trustees, the faculty and the staff, Thomas University has become a school of choice. I fully expect Thomas University will continue to thrive as one of the many liberal arts based schools in this nation that serve a unique sector of higher education. It has been my good fortune to not only work at five excellent colleges and universities over the span of my career, but also to find my way to Thomasville and Thomas University.”